COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Tropical Storm Laura formed in the Gulf of Mexico Friday morning. We have been watching this system closely for a few days and will continue to do so as we head into the weekend. The track has shifted already with the formation of Tropical Storm Laura, and will continue to shift as we progress through the next few days. As of now, it looks like Laura could make a close pass by the Chattahoochee Valley sometime by the middle of next week. This has slowed down from what we were thinking even just last night, and the timing depends on any land interaction the storm encounters over the next few days. So, if it moves over areas like Puerto Rico, Haiti, or Cuba this could slow the system down.
As of the 11 AM Update from the National Hurricane Center, the prediction for the United States is that we could see landfall with Laura as a Category 1 Hurricane somewhere on the Gulf Coast (the forecast cone spans from the Florida Panhandle to the Eastern Louisiana Coast). The latest timing puts landfall for the Gulf Coast sometime Wednesday. What that means for us is still not very certain; in fact, we have low confidence in our forecast since it is several days out. The Chattahoochee Valley could see some wind come out of this if it happens to track closer to us, or we could just see some rain if it tracks further away. In addition to potential wet weather and wind (whether gusty or tropical storm force), if we end up on the East side of Laura we will have to keep an eye out for brief, spin-up tornadoes that could develop as rain bands move inland. Regardless of the exact track, I do think we will see some tropical rains as a result of this system. Impacts other than that are still rather uncertain for the time being. Remember, the exact track can and will change with Laura as it progresses through the Atlantic and into the Gulf of Mexico. We will continue to track this system and fine-tune our forecast for you as we progress through the coming days.
Right now there are Tropical Storm Warnings in effects for the Northern Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico. Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as well as the Southern Bahamas.